The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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dmsnyder's picture

San Francisco Sourdough variation Boule

San Francisco Sourdough variation Boule

SF-SD-Variations-Boule Crumb

SF-SD-Variations-Boule Crumb

San Francisco Sourdough variation Batard

San Francisco Sourdough variation Batard

San Francisco Sourdough variation Batard Crumb

San Francisco Sourdough variation Batard Crumb

San Francisco Sourdough: Variations on a theme

The formula for San Francisco Sourdough Bread in Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb" has been my favorite recipe for my favorite bread for some time. I have varied the formula, using different starters and various mixes of white wheat, whole wheat and rye.

All of the breads have been good. I can say that my favorite loaves have been made with bread flour with a small amount (10-12%) of rye flour.

I have not varied the techniques for mixing or proofing in Reinhart's instructions to date, and, with a single exception, I have always baked this bread as boules. Reinhart's instructions indicate that this bread can be formed as boules, batards or even baguettes.

This time, I decided to try some new variations in ingredients, procedures and loaf shape. The dough was mixed in a Bosch Universal Plus.

Starter Feeding

1 part mother starter

3 parts water

4 parts flour (70% AP flour, 20% whole wheat and 10% rye)

Intermediate firm starter

3 oz starter (formula above)

9 oz water

13 oz First Clear Flour


All of the intermediate firm starter

2 cups of water

23.50 oz King Arthur European Artisan Flour

3.5 oz Guisto's Organic Whole Rye

0.25 oz Diastatic Malt powder

0.75 oz salt


Day 1 - Make the intermediate starter

Mix the Intermediate firm starter. Ferment tightly covered for 9 hours (overnight) at room temperature, then refrigerate for 10 hours.

Day 2 - Mix, Bulk Ferment, Divide and Scale, Shape and Retard

Take the starter out of the refrigerator 1 hour before use.

Mix the water, the diastatic malt and the flours until it forms a shaggy mass. Cover and autolyse (let the flours absorb the water and the gluten start to develop) for 20 minutes.

Add the firm starter cut into 10 pieces to the dough and mix at Speed 1, adding the salt while mixing. Continue to mix at Speed 2 until the gluten is well developed and a window pane can be formed. (7 minutes).

Empty the dough onto the bench and fold the dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, at least twice its size. Roll the dough ball around to coat with oil, cover the bowl tightly, and allow the dough to ferment for at least 4 hours. (If rising too quickly, do a fold to de-gas the dough, but plan on leaving the dough alone for the last two hours, at least.)

Gently transfer the dough to the bench. Scale and divide the dough as wished, according to the type and size of the loaves you want to bake. (The total weight of the dough is around 4-1/2 pounds.)

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 10 minutes, then form loaves. These can be place in bannetons or on parchment or canvas "couches." In either case, cover the loaves air tight and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3 - Proof and Bake (two methods)

Take the loaves out of the refrigerator and allow to warm up and rise for 3-4 hours until expanded to 1-1/2 times their original volume.

Baking method 1

One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven with a baking stone and cast iron skillet in it to 475F.

Slash the loaves as desired, spritz with water and transfer the loaves to the baking stone.

Immediately pour 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet and close the oven door. If desired, spritz the oven walls with water 2-3 times spaced over the first 5 minutes of the bake. After 5 minutes, carefully remove the skillet from the oven, empty any remaining water and dry it. Put it somewhere to cool. After the last spritzing, turn the oven temperature down to 450F.

Baking method 2

Alternatively, set the oven to 450F.

Slash the loaves as desired, transfer them to the stone and bake the loaves covered with a bowl or a roaster for 15-20 minutes. Then remove the cover.

Continue baking until the loaves are nicely colored and their internal temperature is at least 205F. The loaves will be done in 30-40 minutes total time, depending on their size and shape. Then, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the stone for another 5-10 minutes to dry the crust. Allow the loaves to fully cool (1-2 hours) before slicing.


With this particular combination of flours and the procedure as described, the dough was quite sticky at the end of mixing. After a couple of foldings, it was extremely elastic, and I wondered if I had mixed it more than I should have. However, after bulk fermentation and dividing, the dough was quite relaxed and remarkably extensible. It was not at all sticky at this point. This has been characteristic of doughs made with KA European Artisan Flour, in my experience.

The batard pictured above was baked uncovered with steam from water poured into a hot skillet. The boule was baked under a stainless steel bowl without additional steam. Although the boule was baked about 45 minutes after the batard, the latter rose more quickly on parchment and acted as if over-proofed. The boule rose more slowly in a banneton. It did not seem over-proofed, and it had much better oven spring and bloom. The batard had a more open crumb. My hunch is that how I shaped the boule (too tight) was the major determinant of the differences in proofing time and crumb openness. (Other analyses would be welcome.)

Eating (Batard)

The crust is crunchy but not at all tough. The crumb is tender with a delicious complex pain de compagne-type flavor, except with more assertive sourness.


gamountainmom's picture

I am a novice bread baker and have been using my bread maker for about 6 mos.  I am ready to branch out (I think) to different breads but I do not know the difference between Active Dry Yeast, Rapid Rise Yeast and Instant Yeast.  I'm sure they all work differently but I would like to understand the difference.  So many recipes call for different type yeast?  Can they all be used in a bread machine?  I would appreciate your help and hope to learn much from this site.

Thank you

Keiter2b's picture

There was a question about bread and diabetes--the following recipi has worked well for me:

Combine 1/3 cup oatmeal with 1 tbsp kosher salt and 2 cups of boiling water and let sit for one hour

Combine 3/4 cup rye flour, 1 1/2 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour, 2 tbsp triple fiber(oat bran,acacia,flaxseed)

Combine 2 cups sourdough starter with 1 tbsp yeast

MIx all the above and add up to 3 cups of white bread flour kneading into a nice dough.

Let rise twice, then shape into four 18 inch long loaves

Bake at 400 degrees 35 to 40 minutes in tube pans

Instead of a bread loaf I role out and toss the dough to make a pizza crust which I bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees

Or divide a loaf portion in two and make two buns for sandwiches. Depress the center before baking to make a better shaped bun.

This recipi has been approved for me by my glucometer. 

foolishpoolish's picture


AnnieT's picture

Have to start out by saying that I haven't made any type of sweet rolls for many years, so I am hoping that someone with lots of experience will be able to help me. I have been wanting to make several recipes from Beatrice Ojakangas' "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book" and this evening I picked the Cinnamon Ears. I had bought the cardamom some time ago and have to justify the price! My worry is with the dough - the instructions say to mix the yeast, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom and 4 1/2cups ap flour until the dough is smooth. No kneading? I used my dough whisk and then did a modified kneading in the bowl to reach the smooth dough. It seems awfully soft, but it gets to sit in the refrigerator overnight and Beatrice claims the chilled dough is easy to handle. Am I trying to "overthink" this? Any help will be much appreciated, A.

Floydm's picture

Hmmm... I think it is ready.

Pita time.

I like toads's picture
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tamraclove's picture

The Chocolate Cranberry loaf was my first 100% sourdough loaf. I won't say too much about it here, because I posted questions about it in another forum. Here is a link to that conversation.

This loaf was made using my yeasted starter. My wild starter still isn't ready yet, although today's observation (day 6) shows that it increased by about 50% - the most so far!


Today I'm trying Mike's 100% WW Sandwich Bread. It looked pretty basic, and I'd like a basic recipe to use every week to hone my skills on.

My dough is in its first rise right now. It's been sitting, oiled and covered, in a sunny window (cool kitchen) for 1 1/2 hrs. It still hasn't doubled yet. This is the same starter I used yesterday in the Chocolate loaf, and it has been fed twice since then, and I waited until it doubled before stirring it down and measuring it.

The recipe calls for finely milled WW. Here in Greenock, I think I only have 1 option for WW. I need to check at the store again. As of now, I'm using the store brand Strong 100% Stoneground WW. The bran flakes are huge - the same size as in the bag of wheat bran that I bought. I have been reading that the gluten in coarsely-ground flour is not 'available' resulting in shorter gluten strands. This might also account for the hard time I had in kneading. I ended up adding just over 1C of additional flour (oh - I doubled the recipe) and it was still quite sticky.

I'm defining sticky like this - wet enough to leave strings of dough attached to my hands, will clean the countertop, but if I leave it sit long enough to clean my hands off, I have to use a scraper to pick up the ball again.

So... if the gluten is shorter, the dough is stickier, wetter, heavier, harder to rise? Hmm... we'll have to see. With the Chocolate loaf, it didn't quite double on the first rising, bit it 'nearly' doubled on the second rise, and then I got very nice oven spring. The conditions were the same - sunny windowsill. But, the chocolate loaf was made with white flour (WW starter) and this bread is 100% WW - much heavier bread. I did get it to pass the windowpane test finally (it took almost 30 min. of kneading).

More comments will be posted as the day's baking progresses.



After 2 hours, i decided that the dough had nearly doubled. I punched it down gently, turned it over, and reshaped the ball 'inside out'. The dough is somewhat stiffer after the 2 hour rest, and didn't stick to me - yea! As I stretched the dough (the side that was the bottom) the dough did not tear, but made very small (1/8-1/4") blisters on the surface. The dough is very smooth, other than that.


The dough nearly doubled again - after about 1.25 hrs. I punched it down, divided it in half (double batch) and made 2 loafs. It was still too sticky to put on the counter without a dusting of flour. I spread the dough out - almost using Mike's 'teasing' technique, like for stretch and fold. I rolled the dough up, brushing flour off and pinching the seam as I went. I sealed the ends, turned them under, and placed them into 2 greaed and floured PC stoneware bread pans (I can't get Baker's Joy here) The pans are about 1/2 full of dough - I don't think they'll rise above the surface...


I was right - they only filled the pans about 3/4 of the way.  I did get them to slash nicely - one long slash down the middle.  Baked for 45 min at 350, then upped the temp to 400 for the last 10 to get them brown(I had the pans too low in the oven).   Because I had greased AND floured my pans, they popped out nicely.  I took them out when the temp was at 205. 

The bread was, again, too moist.  But not as bad as last time.  They were completely risen inside - no thick spots, or pockets of dough.  The flavor is nice - just a bit sour. But that might be because of the extra moisture.  You can't taste the honey (I didn't really want to) so it's a nice any-time bread.  I will definately use this bread next time, and compare notes - using more flour until I'm happy with the texture.  Also, since a double batch wasn't enough for my 2 loaf pans, I think I will make a 3x batch next time.  That makes 1.5 batch in each pan.  I think that would just about do it.

1st try at Mike's WW


Crumb still a bit too moist 


tamraclove's picture

Well, I can't say that this blog will be interesting to anyone but me. I have a food blog, published to keep up with my favorite recipes and let my far-away friends and family know what cooking I'm up to. But, I'm the one of the only bread bakers among us, and since I'm just learning I'll have lots of comments (mostly to myself) and I need a place to write them down. So, I guess since I've got blog space over here, I might as well use it!

Just for the record, and in case anyone is interested, I'm a 25 yo SAHM (the 'M' will happen in September 2008!) from Kentucky. I live with my husband (and baby soon) in Scotland on the coast of the Firth of Clyde. I've been cooking seriously since the age of about 14, and am known for my cooking among my circle of friends back home. I've always been able to bake bread, but only the yeasted kind, and not often enough to develop a talent. Just enough to go along with whatever special dinner I happened to be making. I've done wedding cakes for 2 friends, which tasted absolutely wonderful... and flowers cover up a multitude of decorating sins ;-)

Now I'm springing into Sourdough. I began a yeasted starter about 2 months ago, and have been using it in a white-bread sourdough recipe (including more yeast) that I haphazardly converted to WW (converted really isn't the right term - I just replaced all the white with WW). The results were a tasty bread with no oven spring, a completely flat top, and pores big enough for honey to seep through. But, since it tastes good, that's what I've been feeding my DH all this time.

Upon further research, I've decided that I need to get a wild yeast starter going. I'm on day 6 now, and nothing was happening until I gave my WW starter a Rye feeding on day 4 - now things are progressing slowly. Looks like I might have something worth using in about another week.

OK - enough introduction. On to my purpose - a diary of my sourdough baking, mistakes, successes, and thoughts.


lolo's picture



This was really fun to make. I decided to try something with a poolish today, and I'm so glad I picked focaccia!  But wow does this recipe make a lot.  Even though it took a while, the results are really worth it.  I've never made focaccia of any kind before, but this was way better than any store-bought stuff I've had in the past.  Here's the crumb:


Focaccia Crumb


I left my poolish out overnight because I was... well.. lazy. BBA says to ferment it for four hours and then refrigerate it overnight, but I was tired and I wanted to go to bed, so I left it outside as a compromise. It wasn't as warm as my house, and it wasn't as cool as the refrigerator. It had the added bonus of not requiring a warm-up period when I felt like baking in the morning.  I figured it wouldn't make a huge difference if I cheated this way, and I was right! It still tasted great in the end. The poolish was a really fun consistency.


Poolish Poolish, consistency


This dough was a lot easier for me to work with than the pain a l'ancienne dough, even though they're both really wet and slack. Folding was a lot easier than the ancienne shaping for some reason. I've never done the stretch and fold before, and I really like the technique. Really easy but produces a nice result. I was surprised at how the dough changed just from three folds, 30 minutes apart.


Dusting Focaccia Dough Folding Focaccia Dough Oiling Focaccia Dough


The shaping was also a lot of fun. Maybe I just like playing with my food?  I did an herb oil with as much fresh basil as I could remove from my plant without killing it, and supplement with some dried italian herbs.  I was out of flaked kosher salt, which was sad, but I had sea salt in a table-salt sized grind.  I'll definitely get the larger salt for the next batch.


Herb Oil on Focaccia Dough Final Shaping, Focaccia Dough


If anything I think I should have degassed it a little more. It puffed WAY up, especially on one side that was particularly bubbly.  I gave half of it away to my best friend, and I'm thinking about making it again for a party this weekend. Seems like an ideal food for a lot of people who want to nibble and drink some wine! 


Anyone know the best way to store it?  Covered?  Plastic wrap?  Uncovered?   




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